GRASCA – graduate school in contract archaeology
The Graduate School in Contract Archaeology (GRASCA) is a research school for Swedish contract archaeology. Since 2015, nine doctoral students have been conducting research on how Swedish contract archaeology can enhance its impact in society and extend its market.
The research school is a unique venture financed by The Knowledge Foundation and Linnaeus University in collaboration with the following participating companies:
- Bohuslän Museum
- Jamtli in Östersund
- Kalmar County Museum Department of Museum Archaeology
- The conservation service Västarvet Studio Västsvensk Konservering
- Stiftelsen Kulturmiljövård
Photo at the top: The doctoral students in GRASCA. From left: Ulrika Söderström, Ivonne Dutra Leivas, Mats Nelson, Delia Ní Chíobhaín Enqvist, Fredrik Gunnarsson, Clara Alfsdotter, Vivian Smits, Charina Knutson, Ellinor Sabel.
Presentation of the projects
PhD in 2021
My research focused on the disposal of the dead, both past and recent. The licentiate thesis, 'Bad Death at Sandby borg: A Bioarchaeological Analysis of Intergroup Violence and Postmortem Agency of Unburied Corpses' investigated an Iron Age massacre from different human remains aspects. Papers included trauma and modus operandi of the killing, the social aspects of leaving corpses unburied, and what taphonomic studies can add to our understanding of how the dead were disposed.
The PhD research included studies related to forensic archaeology and body disposal. The project included human decomposition studies (human taphonomy) that aimed to further our knowledge of body disposal from osteological material, as well as the current state and possible developments of forensic archaeology in Sweden. With this interdisciplinary focus, I hope to strengthen collaborations between forensic and archaeological functions in Sweden.
Delia Ní Chíobhaín Enqvist
My research deals with the creation and utility of digital archaeological data for research and communication purposes. In my licentiate thesis, I investigated the use of digital visualisations for knowledge production and communication of underwater maritime heritage, among contract maritime archaeologists operating in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. The study drawed on digital archaeology, maritime archaeology and heritage studies, as well as discourse and thematic analysis to understand the current use of digital visualisations.
My PhD thesis focus on virtual representations of maritime sites and employs digital archaeological and media theory to understand the consequences of digital 3D recording on both archaeologists and future users of the data. The project aim is the creation of a workflow that considers end user experience from the outset, allowing archaeological data to be reused and experienced in new ways.
Questions that inform this line of enquiry include: Is it possible that identical data sets can be used by specialists and wider audiences alike? Should archaeologists be charged with this task or are there experts in other fields better equipped to do this? Could maritime archaeology benefit from other scientific fields where access is limited to experts, such as space exploration? It is intended that my work will expand potential audiences and future re-use of digital data.
In my research, I study how the Swedish heritage system meets the needs of the indigenous people of Sweden, the Sámi. I am interested in if and how national and international policies for indigenous heritage are implemented in the daily work of archaeologists and curators.
Despite being pushed back geographically, Sámi still dispose of about 50% of the area of Sweden for the grazing of their reindeer, which means their historical and cultural landscape is vast, and their archaeological and historical remains are spread out over a large area. When contract archaeology enters these areas, do the archaeological companies consider indigenous rights and heritage policies?
Investigating the case of the Swedish region of Jämtland and drawing on interviews with actors within the Swedish heritage system, I study what happens when policy meets practice. My results so far, show that legislation, money and everyday reality get in the way of indigenous influence. These research results also suggest that there are ways of improving the heritage process.
Ivonne Dutra Leivas
Kalmar County Museum
In my licentiate thesis I investigated how educational programs for schools are implemented within the framework of contract archaeology. I studied the underlying incentives that motivate public outreach within contract archaeology, who carries out the outreach and what impact educational programs have on schools. I aimed to explore how public outreach within contract archaeology can be organized to meet schools´ demand for knowledge and activities. With an interdisciplinary approach, taken from archaeology and educational sciences, the goal was to instigate a dialogue between the scientific community and contract archaeology, as well as between contract archaeology and schools.
The primary goal for my licentiate thesis was to study the practices of public outreach at urban excavation sites in Sweden, specifically studying outreach practices towards schools.
I also discussed how contract archaeology in the future can make possible broader collaborations with schools. This serves as an introduction to how archaeo-didactics can evolve bringing together contract archaeology's goals and potential in an educational situation, with the needs and goals of school education.
In my doctoral thesis, I will examine what kind of prerequisites there are within the discipline of archaeology for enhancement of an archaeo-didactic field. Furthermore, I will explore what an archaeo-didactic field can encompass and in what way an archaeo-didactic can serve as a tool to improve the collaboration between contract archaeology and the schools.
Kalmar County Museum
PhD in 2022
My research focused on how digitalisation can contribute to making Swedish contract archaeology socially relevant in new ways. I investigated how archaeological knowledge production is created in the digital environment. This was achieved by understanding how knowledge production and communication of results is carried out within contract archaeology. The goal was to create new knowledge about how contract archaeology can increase its ability to create relevant knowledge for authorities, researchers and the general public.
In my licentiate thesis, knowledge gaps were identified regarding how knowledge production in contract archaeology is affected by digitalisation. There are problems, for example, with the fact that the current digital information infrastructure is not enough to ensure quality of all digital data produced by the sector. Another observation was that the social context of the practitioners largely influences how well they manage to follow the digital development. The results also showed opportunities for contract archaeology practitioners to develop their knowledge production through, for example, digital openness, collaboration and new ways of communicating.
In my doctoral dissertation, I further elaborated on the socio-cultural contexts of practitioners and authorities and how these affect the ability of contract archaeologists to produce relevant knowledge in the digital environment. I analysed how well the existing digital infrastructure works and how it relates to parallel digital infrastructures where providers produce knowledge. The goal was to develop new strategies for digital contract archaeology that help the sector to produce relevant knowledge for society today.
Kalmar County Museum
My research focuses on how cultural heritage and archaeology can be applied in theory and practice to contribute to sustainable urban development. My research aim is to create knowledge on how Swedish contract archaeology can engage in sustainability issues to contribute to sustainable urban development in cooperation with other sectors. This was also the topic of my licentiate thesis "Contract Archaeology and Sustainable Development – Between Theory and Practice".
My doctoral thesis investigates how futures are created in modern urban planning and development by using cultural heritage as a resource, and the potential consequences these practices can have to social sustainability. The aim is that the thesis will show how the interaction between urban planning and cultural heritage management, and specifically archaeology, can develop to achieve other more sustainable results in the future.
In my research project I study how participant archaeology can be used as a source for health and well-being among citizens, and at the same time also contribute to archeological knowledge and research. Participant archaeology is an under-developed area in current Swedish archaeology. If you want to experience or engage in archaeological fieldwork in Sweden today, it is almost impossible if you are not a fully trained archaeologist or studying to become an archaeologist. Only a few companies and museums arrange projects where non-professionals can attend archaeological fieldwork, and due to the Swedish laws and regulations non-professionals are not allowed to initiate or execute archaeological excavations by themselves.
My main target with my research is to find and develop strategies that can be useful for anyone interested in creating participant archaeology-projects in Sweden in the future.
My PhD research deals with mediation and participation in contract archaeology with a focus on the archaeological heritage landscape. I investigate how views and values of past landscapes are formed through the interaction between contract archaeology and the public. Landscape, heritage and social studies as well as thematic discourse analysis is used to understand the conditions for forming a more progressive relationship between the public and archaeological sites.
My case studies involve the study of major ongoing or recently conducted excavation projects in Sweden, where mediation and participation with the public are prioritized goals. One aim is to evaluate methods in mediating contract archaeology, in order to develop more directed and cost-effective activities.
Västarvet Studio Västsvensk Konservering
PhD in 2022
Selection of archaeological finds, their use and relevance for contemporary society are currently hot topics in heritage management in Sweden. With contract archaeology as a point of departure, but with the eyes of the conservator, I look into the processes that transform material culture into cultural heritage in museum collections with the aim to increase the relevance of archaeological heritage for a wider public.
In regard to the making of cultural heritage as a social practice – whereas heritage emerges as the effect of social relations between actors and actants – I use Actor-Network-Theory as a framework in order to identify and understand actor negotiations and their consequences.
My research included a review on organisation structure in regard to existing legislation and guidelines in order to identify system-specific areas in need of improvement. In addition to this, contemporary selection processes were compared to existing collections by means of a case study combining quantitative and qualitative data base analysis. In combination with a user-survey among archaeologists finds processing, the case study identified a specific 21st century signature for contract archaeology on the composition of archaeological collections.
By improving existing processes I hope my research will unite the different actors in the heritage making process, in order to secure a relevant cultural heritage.
Written about Grasca
Sámi people rarely involved in archaeological projects dealing with their cultural heritage News
Clara Alfsdotter will carry out research on human decomposition News
Contract archaeology and future sustainability studied in new research News
Continued trust in unique graduate school in archaeology News